BLM sheep permitting kills another bighorn herd

Well, the BLM has done it again, they’ve managed to wipe out another herd of bighorn sheep.  A herd of California bighorn sheep in the Snowstorm Mountains of northern Nevada is the latest victim of disease caused by domestic sheep.  While the Nevada Department of Wildlife hesitates to say whether interaction with domestic sheep is the cause of the die-off, which has taken 50% of the 140 animal herd and likely to take the rest, it is almost a certainty since domestic sheep have been permitted to graze in these mountains and they were reported to be in the area shortly before the disease event was noticed.

“We’re not trying to point fingers. We’re just trying to find a way to keep the sheep separate,” NDOW spokesman Chris Healy said.

Well, they shouldn’t expect any cooperation from the BLM in Nevada.  The BLM refuses, because of political pressure and despite the scientific evidence supporting it, to adopt the guidelines of WAFWA which recommend a nine-mile separation between bighorn and domestic sheep to keep the two from coming into contact.

These disease outbreaks don’t happen just out of the blue, they happen because domestic sheep transmit deadly pneumonia to bighorns, a fact which, to the discomfort of the sheep industry and their protectors in the BLM, has been known for decades.  Bighorn and domestic sheep ARE NOT COMPATIBLE.

View Snowstorm Bighorn Herd in a larger map

Disease killing off Nevada bighorn sheep
by Jeff DeLong – Reno Gazette-Journal



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  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Oh. Ho hum. No one seems to care about bighorn sheep, certainly not members of Congress or the state legislatures.

    I guess they see the killing by disease of a million bighorn sheep in the late 1800s – early 1900s as a triumph that is now being threatened by those who want to keep domestic sheep away from them.
    – – – – –
    Less sarcasticly, an earlier generation of conservationists, now almost all decreased, called sheep on the Western range, “range maggots.” I can certainly understand their disgust.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      It seems that few like domestic sheep other than the actual woolgrowers themselves.

      Every once in a while the sheep are on the grass-seed fields that surround the house of a friend North of Eugene, OR. When I visit and sheep are present, there always seems to be a musky smell hanging in the morning air.

      They don’t appear to be espcially healthy most of the time, and it is not unusual to drive around the grass-seed fields inhabited by sheep and see dead ones here or there.

      It was interesting to see that many of the sheep are kept in the fields with nothing more than a string that is stretched about 1.5 feet off the ground. Apparently they are not the cleverest of animals.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Daniel Berg,

    Given all those folks who worry that wolves (and many other animals) carry the dog tapeworm, the should really get the creeps reading about the worms domestic sheep carry (of course they won’t), but for the record: Internal parasites (worms) of sheep.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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